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The Gift of Special Needs

Saturday we went to a Christmas party hosted by Parent to Parent, our local support group for families with children with special needs. We have just recently gotten involved with them and it has been great to connect with other parents in our community.

Saturday I got to see two of the little Superheroes I have photographed in the past, which was fun. The kids got to do crafts, enjoy a fun lunch and even sit on Santa’s lap which was a first for them. As you know, we don’t “do Santa” in our house, but I wasn’t going to stop the kids from sitting on his lap if they wanted.

Tucker, in his typical rascal style, told Santa he wanted, “A Red Rider BB Gun with lever-action, a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time“. To which Santa replied, “I hope you don’t shoot someone’s eye out with it“.

As I sat watching my kids play and have fun, it occurred to me that my children have been given a special gift. Growing up with siblings with special needs gives them an amazing insight and clarifies one simple truth for them: people with special needs are…people. That may sound simplistic to you, but many adults don’t seem to grasp this concept.

The kid in a wheelchair? He’s a little boy who loves super heroes and sports. The kid with cancer? She’s just a little girl who loves ponies and ballet and pepperoni pizza. My kids have been given the opportunity to see and interact with children and adults of all abilities. Having Mordecai and Avi and Apollo and Kalina has given us a passport to events and activities filled with people with a vast variety of needs.


My teens have gone to the Starlight Prom and spent the evening getting to know and dancing with teens with special needs. Parties and events with Parent 2 Parent and Starlight have allowed them to spend time with other families with kids with chronic health issues, Down Syndrome, autism, Asperger’s, kids in walkers and wheelchairs, kids who are non-verbal but still want to play…The Gift of Special Needs

Having siblings with special needs has enabled them to meet and interact with kids, teens and adults across the spectrum of needs and abilities. My teens still love going to the SPIN dances, which are monthly dances for teens and adults with special needs. My teens go to these dances and chat with, dance with and make friends with adults with all kinds of abilities. Are they sometimes uncomfortable? Yes. Are there awkward moments? Yes. Do they understand that everyone, everyone is a person? And individual with likes and dislikes, talents and struggles? Yes.

And that, I believe, is a wonderful gift.




  1. nancy from mass

    I was 13 before i found out that not everyone has someone in the family in a wheelchair or on crutches. i had my Memere (Grandmother) who had issues walking and used a wheelchair, walker or crutches (the kind the arm goes into). She lived with us until she passed away when i was 7. i had an aunt who was born in 1923 who had cerebral palsy. the doctors back then didn’t think she would survive so she was carried on a pillow for the first 2 years of her life. she passed away in 2010 at the age of 86!
    I am thankful my son knew his aunt and he now volunteers once a month at the Y with the Go program. They play games with mentally and physically challenged people. He loves it! He has also gotten a couple of his friends to help out.
    People are people. it doesn’t matter what medical/race/creed/language/physical types are. we are all people who need friendship, love and humor. i wish more people understood that.

  2. Amanda

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I am currently in the process of *possibly* welcoming a small baby into our home who may have special needs due to the birth mom’s choices and worry a little about how my two kids will cope with it. I guess I’ll need to just remind them (and others and myself!) that regardless of special needs, people are just people.

  3. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    Awww, what an amazing group you have there. I just love all the pictures and your perspective is so warm and comforting and real (if that makes any sense). Everyone is a person – YES!

    I just LOVE Tucker’s request of Santa – HILARIOUS! I would ask the exact same thing.

    Thanks so much for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

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